Professor Justin Sydnor’s research was recently featured in a Business Insider article about workplace health incentives. The article focused on the role obesity plays in rising healthcare costs and what employers can do to ensure employees stick to exercise plans.
Sydnor worked with colleagues at UC Santa Barbara and Drexel University to conduct one of the first- ever large- scale studies on workplace health incentives.
As part of the study, employees of a Fortune 500 company were randomly selected to earn $10 per visit to the gym for up to three visits per week. Employees who chose the financial incentives doubled the rate at which they went to the gym, but, after the incentives ceased, the increase dropped to 16 percent.
After the incentive period was completed, the group was randomized and split into two new groups. One group was offered an opportunity to create a self-funded commitment contract, and the other group was not.
The groups with financial incentives and commitment contracts had a 47 percent holdover rate even after the incentives stopped.
The research study showed that employers have an opportunity to encourage healthier behavior through a combination of financial incentives and accountability.
The full paper is available here.